Saturday, September 11, 2010

Warm as a cucumber

For a few weeks now, our milk has mysteriously been going off before the use by date has arrived. Raspberries have been turning mouldy, yoghurt has starting blinking and Babybel cheeses have . . . well, stayed exactly the same because you could put them in a nostalgic time capsule, bury them in tarmac and dig them up to show on Blue peter in twenty years and they wouldn't have changed at all.

But lots of our fresh stuff has been displaying a remarkable grasp of comestible entropy, and I don't like it.

It's like living in the middle ages.

I wonder if they had use by dates in the middle ages?

Turnip. Display until sold. Use prior to decomposition.

Anyway, in this modern, technological world we've been living in since the Year 2000 heralded the arrival of the future, I presumed that the fridge I entrusted my perishables to would've have been able to fulfill it's primary purpose and stopped stuff, you know, rotting and that. Apparently not.

Still, it's a few years old now and, because nothing is built to last anymore, one must expect it to go wrong at some point.

First things first, I ate a space through to the back of the fridge so I could get a good look inside:

After rapidly considering the merits of a ham and cheese toastie, making it, eating it and then hiding my plate, I had a good look round for anything like a badly set temperature control in there that might explain the unseasonably warm innards?

There it is:
A dial labelled 'temperature' and set to 'low'.

Damn. If it's as low as it can go, then it must be broken, and you can bet your bottom salad shelf that it won't be an easy DIY repair, but some tiny, complex mechanism that can only be obtained from the Bupyeong province of Korea, where it is carved from the sternums of Asiatic black bears by artisan monks and costing the best part of fifty quid.

Sighing, I informed Mrs The Jules that, sadly, the refrigerator had packed up and we would need to spend cash that we didn't have on a new one, unless that one we saw dumped in the local Site of Special Scientific Interest was still there in which case I could just empty the badgers out of it, load it on the trailer and bring it home.

"What do the instructions say?" she asked, completely unreasonably.

I shook my head at her and her little ways, smiled gently and informed her that they would presumably tell me to get a qualified electrician in to fit a plug, to put food in it that you want to keep cold and to refrain from shutting children in it, even annoying ones.

"Presumably?" she asked, equally unreasonably.

"Well, I'm not actually going to waste time reading instructions when it's patently obvious that it's not working, that the temperature is set to as low as it can go on the dial and it's still quite balmy inside, am I? What's the point?"

I am suddenly aware that I am talking to nobody, as Mrs The Jules trots off and returns half a minute later with the fridge instruction booklet which I haven't seen for four years since we bought it, and pointlessly begins leafing through it.

I start wondering if I can afford a Smeg fridge, because who wouldn't want smeg in their kitchen. Unfortunately, we would need to take out another mortgage to afford one, and it would be ironic if we did get one and subsequently starved because we couldn't then afford to buy any food to put in it.

A few minutes later, the wife tapped the bottom of one of the pages, reminding me that the dials in the fridge would've been designed by engineers, and so one shouldn't take what's written on them too literally:

Apparently, Temperature Low is the warmest setting.

To make it cold, one must turn the temperature gauge to High.


I gnashed my teeth, shrugged my shoulders and held out my hands with thumbs facing outwards in the universally recognised posture of resigned exasperation, letting the universe at large know about the failings of people other than myself.

"Its a bloody good job they don't make altimeters!" I called to Mrs The Jules as she replaced the instructions back in whatever mysterious realm they came from.

A drawer probably.

Then I went and turned the fridge temperature down. Or up. No, down.

Definitely possibly down.


  1. Haha, That reminds me of the water heater I had on my shower. It had settings for winter and summer. I thought it didn't work and so I took cold showers for four years, until I accidently put the switch to summer. I guess i thought in the summer you would want a cold shower because it is 1000 degrees out so you never put it there.

  2. Score one for Mrs. The Jules.

    This sort of things happens in my house way too often. I wouldn't mind that much, if it didn't make my wife walk around for the rest of the day smiling at me in that "Look at my poor, befuddled husband" kind of way.


  3. iasa - sounds like the same engineers designed your shower. Or went to the same college.

    Didactic Pirate - It's more like score 43 for Mrs The Jules. I've lost count, so her wins bounce off me like water off a dry sponge.

  4. You know, when I was a kid I distinctly remember one of my grandparents having no fridge. At all. And this wasn't even the stone ages or anything! They didn't have heating either, just a coal fire, so the house was cold enough a fridge really wasn't necessary, but I still hated drinking milk there as cool and cold are two totally different things.

    How interesting, Veg.

    Anyway, it doesn't negate your giant brain misdiagnosing the signs on the dials. I mean even Einstein once got the hot and cold tap mixed up, despite the red and blue thing, and look at the size of HIS brain.

    I actually made that last part up but I hope it makes you feel better.

  5. Nice to know I'm not the only one to get these things wrong...
    Did I tell you of the time I cooked a pair of runners in my oven? ..No?

  6. Veggie Ass - I understand Einstein's brain was actually slightly smaller than average, so he had to have some weakness somewhere to fit all the clever stuff in. Better he forgot how to turn a tap on than how to breathe or something.

    Tempo - Ha. I hope you don't mean athletes?

  7. Here in the medieval Far East we keep our perishables under a recently deceased buffalo. They stay fresh that way.

    Have a nice day, Boonie

  8. She is a woman. Simply acknowledge her superiority and be done with it. And buy her something nice and chilled.

  9. Boonie S - And presumbaly they don't get stolen either. Genius!

    Mdme DeF - Yes m'lady.

  10. "Smeg"? For real? That would engender endless titters in the States. And vomiting in the mouth.

    We apparently have complete gender role reversal in my house. My wife refuses to look at a manual for anything or ask directions when she is lost (which is never); whereas I know all the officially sanctioned microwave settings for thawing chicken and heating up meatloaf.

    p.s.--my word verification word is "coment." I'm like, "Yeah--I know. I am. Shut up. Learn to spell."

  11. Sorry to say that I saw this one coming. :-)

    No worries! I still mutter "righty-tight lefty-loosie" whenever I need to uncap something...


  12. Who in their right mind designed that dial? I bet it was a women, because a women figured it out right away, and they are in the same union you know...

  13. BetaDad - I think the company are on to something by referring to themelves by that name, thus taking it back and making it their own. It's practically a term of endearment now. One day, a smeghead will just be a freidge enthusiast. And it sounds like a very modern household you have there as well!

    Pearl - Am I that predictable? And I thought that poem had something to do woith bras.

    SkylersDad - lol; they must send out a handbook of secrets to their members, including dial interpretation and how to find keys on a crowded shelf.

  14. That is very annoying, however useful to get an insight into the male psyche... getting the instructions from another realm.

    For my own efforts I also have another realm. It's a case of checking where my better half has already "looked". Does that make me a bad wife or am I pre programmed to double check?!!

  15. While I was living in NYC, I had gone on the road for 2 weeks. When I got that month's electric bill I was surprised to see it hadn't gone down one penny.

    I called to find out why and was told the refrigerator makes up the bulk of the bill.


  16. Cass - Sounds like a pre-requisite of wifely duties to me. We can't see for looking!

    Suzy - Especially if your fridge had been watching telly and microwaving popcorn whilst you were away.

  17. So which family member turned the dial down to low?

  18. Men and their fear of instruction manuals, directions, and menstrual products. Never fails to amuse me.

  19. Fragrant Liar - Very true. And it had better ot have been me, because I will give me so much grief if it's true!

    otherworldlyone - I dread the day I have to ask how to find an instruction booklet for a period!

  20. I have to say the 'set low/high' thing on fridges confuses me too. Nor have I the faintest idea where all the instruction booklets and warranty thingies reside either so I feel your pain.

    I do ask directions if I'm lost, mind.

  21. Darn, Vegetable Assassin beat me to the red / blue association. It makes sense though that those might be confused because look at temperatures of celestial bodies, am I right?

  22. Judearoo - You're not completely lost to the dark side of blokeiness then!

    Eric - Good point. Blue stars are hotter than red 'uns aren't they?

  23. Yeah, I'm with Pearl. Right off the bat I was like, "No, no The Jules. You want HIGH levels of COLD in your fridge. Turn the COLD up to HIGH, instead of a LOW dose of COOL temperatures. So simple."

    Having said that, I still can't make sense of the arrivals vs departures sections at the airports. Departures are when the plane drops off your relatives and then flies away, right? Arriving planes come to pick up the people who are flying away?

  24. Steamy - I see your logic about the planes, if I squint, eat those dried mushrooms I've had in the back of a cupboard for 3 years and then look at it through the bottom of a half-drained pint glass, but not on the fridge thing.

    We may have come to a transatlantic cultural impasse here. I think it's the same mix up you get when US and European agencies get together on a project and one uses imperial measurements whilst the other metric, or one uses science whilst the other uses the bible.

    Viva la difference!

  25. After three years the spores would have died, I'd think. Then the most they'll do now is make you sick, and you'll vomit up your drink and then you won't have ANY fun!

    I'm referring to the dries mushrooms, of course. Can you guess how SOMEONE spent her college career?

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